One of the most exciting and haunting novels I've had the privilege of reading. Who Fears Death tells the story of Onyesonwu, a girl and powerful sorceress born into a terrible legacy in near-future dystopian Africa. Onyesonwu undertakes a quest for revenge that turns into something much more complex; along the way, she must fight for acceptance, equality, friendship, and to make peace with her fate. Okorafor believably writes scenes ranging from brutal violence to exceptional tenderness with sincerity and care. This is a must-read for anyone who craves sci-fi & fantasy novels that don't flinch from exploring and illuminating realities of our own world in fantastical settings.
— From Christina
June 2010 Indie Next List
“Okorafor's latest novel, her first for adults, is a sharp, evocative story of a woman born of rape into a post-apocalyptic African landscape. Okorafor brings her considerable talent for ambiguous characterizations and grappling with difficult questions of morality and power in an unjust world. Her prose is musical and emotionally raw, and Okorafor's imagery brings the novel's rich magic and religion into vivid relief. Onyesonwu is a protagonist whose clear voice and brutally memorable story will stay with you long after you've finished.”
— Gretchen Treu, A Room of One's Own Feminist Bookstore, Madison, WI
Now optioned as a TV series for HBO, with executive producer George R. R. Martin
An award-winning literary author enters the world of magical realism with her World Fantasy Award-winning novel of a remarkable woman in post-apocalyptic Africa.
In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways; yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. A woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert, hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different--special
--she names her Onyesonwu, which means "Who fears death?" in an ancient language.
It doesn't take long for Onye to understand that she is physically and socially marked by the circumstances of her conception. She is Ewu
--a child of rape who is expected to live a life of violence, a half-breed rejected by her community. But Onye is not the average Ewu
. Even as a child, she manifests the beginnings of a remarkable and unique magic. As she grows, so do her abilities, and during an inadvertent visit to the spirit realm, she learns something terrifying: someone powerful is trying to kill her.
Desperate to elude her would-be murderer and to understand her own nature, she embarks on a journey in which she grapples with nature, tradition, history, true love, and the spiritual mysteries of her culture, and ultimately learns why she was given the name she bears: Who Fears Death.